THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY
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ACQUISITION OF LEYLAND CUB 1702 (B702 UVR)
After SELNEC and then GMT had secured the delivery of a series of minibuses 1700-1742, they also received and operated a series of other minibuses being from the Dial a Ride fleets 1743 to 1748. Thereafter, and prior to the delivery of the Dennis Dominos 1751 to 1770, they purchased two Leyland Cub CU435ís, numbered 1701 and 1702 in the vacant 1700 series which had Reeves Burgess B30FL bodywork in 1985. In terms of firsts and lasts being our policy for acquisition there was not much to choose from as 1701 would have been the first and 1702 would have been the last, but we had not actually pursued them, however one of our members James Fairchild kindly intervened and secured 1702 on our behalf. It was delivered new on 11th March 1985 and he secured it our behalf on 8th August 2009. It has a 3700 cc engine. The 1700 series also saw 1721-1728 Renault S75ís with Northern Counties B17FL bodies. As all members know, the fleet of Greater Manchester PTE was very varied indeed. In the mid 1980s this included everything from some fairly rare chassis/body combinations of double deckers (Volvo Ailsa 1448, WRJ448X) down to 'dial-a-ride' minibuses, with most things in between. Two very unusual purchases were 1701 and 1702, being Reeve Burgess bodied Leyland Cubs. These were delivered in GMPTE orange and brown livery with "Localine" branding, and operated on welfare type services mainly in the Wythenshawe area. The Leyland Cub chassis was part of the Leyland Redline range, and was based on the Leyland Terrier truck chassis.
Our members' interest in these vehicles goes back around four years. Our member James Fairchild (who is heavily involved with Transport Yorkshire Preservation Group (TYPG), owner of several preserved West Yorkshire PTE vehicles and the organiser of the July 2009 event in Leeds that our GM Express liveried Metrobus 5320, D320LNB, attended) had acquired for that group a West Yorkshire PTE Leyland Cub with Optare body, C807KBT, in December 2004, and was talking to our member, Greg Taylor, owner of some GMPTE minibuses about their new acquisition. He mentioned that GMPTE had operated two Leyland Cubs, and duly looked up the GMPTE vehicles on the DVLA 'vehicle licence' website. He then remarked that 1702 was still taxed. Fast forward to Sunday 28th August 2005 and James Fairchild was in Leeds City Bus Station. To his surprise, he noticed an unusual vehicle 1702, in a faded blue and white livery, being operated by Friends of Our Lady Community Transport. This organisation operated the vehicle under a section 19 large bus permit. On this occasion it was taking churchgoers to the catholic church. After noting down the legal address James made contact with this organisation; at that time solely to offer support and assistance in acquiring any parts that may be needed.
After being in occasional contact with the church group, it became apparent that they wished to dispose of the vehicle. It had been owned by them for several years, and had made trips to Lourdes in France and to the Vatican City. The initial plan was for TYPG to acquire the vehicle for spare parts, however due to the vehicles' historic importance, and the fact that it was one of the few Leyland Cubs operated by a major operator (GMPTE, WYPTE, Lothian etc., are about the only examples) the vehicle was offered to the SELNEC Preservation Society. Initially, due to storage problems that the church was having, James Fairchild arranged for it to be moved (still under Friends of Our Lady ownership) from premises in Barwick, Leeds to a storage location used for other preserved buses, in the Selby area. This took place on Friday 8th May 2009. As a bonus, the garage had said "do you want the original seats as well", the vehicle having a non-authentic set of coach seats. To our surprise and amazement, a full set of salt and pepper moquette seats were produced from a loft (frames, bases and backs). These were stacked inside the vehicle, for future refitment. As a point of note, around four pairs of seats at the rear of the vehicle were designed to be easily removable to enable the stowage of wheelchairs. The bulk of the retaining channel in the floor remains.
The vehicle had gone barely five miles when the clutch appeared to have gone. After a bit of easing back, the vehicle was able to climb the slight hill and all was then well for a further couple of miles. This time however a knocking could be heard from the engine, so the vehicle was stopped and switched off to prevent any further damage from occurring. The initial idea was to allow it to cool down then try again, however flat batteries put paid to this idea, and so a recovery truck was summoned (from Cosgroves Recovery in Selby). Due to the fact that we were about to pass over a weak bridge (light enough for the bus on its own, but not with a recovery truck) and also the fact that we were on a narrow country lane, the decision was made to pick the vehicle up by the rear. We set off to go the long way round (via the A63), then when we were almost there, the nearside front tyre blew, near Riccall on the A19 (noting that the vehicles two front tyres were the only wheels in contact with the tarmac). We immediately stopped and the vehicle was dropped from the truck. The plan was simply to run the tow truck round and pick it up by the front (with the four rear wheels thus being on the ground). This was done, however a problem that then manifested was that the brakes had applied themselves (due to drop in air pressure).
For whatever reason, 1702 did not have the suzie air connector at the front of the vehicle that WYPTE 1807 has, so there was no obvious way to use the compressed air of the tow truck to blow the brakes off. The recovery people then attempted to start the engine of 1702 in order that it could create air using its own compressor; however this didn't work, so they reluctantly cut part of the brake rigging using a hacksaw. The journey to the storage location was then completed without further incident.
After considering their options as a consequence of the engine damage, Friends of Our Lady made a proposal to our member, James Fairchild, which was that he could have the vehicle in exchange for settling the recovery bill (around £170). A meeting took place, where the V5C (logbook) was dealt with and the vehicle duly put in the name of the SELNEC Educational Trust.
After being stored in Selby for a few months, arrangements were made to return the vehicle to Manchester, in order for it to join other preserved GMPTE vehicles. On Friday 30th October 2009, the same recovery company collected it from Selby and towed her to East Manchester. In typical 1702 fashion, she blew another tyre on the way over. Fortuitously two spare tyres had been located inside the vehicle (both of which have now been used). This perhaps serves as a warning to all (whether driving a car or a bus) that tyres should be checked frequently, and that tyres which are believed to be old should be replaced.
The vehicle is now stored at our East Manchester premises pending future restoration. This vehicle also adds both a new body type (Reeve Burgess) and a new engine type (Leyland 6-98, which is predominantly a truck engine) to our collection. The society are keen to know whether anyone has a photograph showing the rear detail of the original livery (perhaps one of these vehicles appears in the background of another picture), and also to ask any members who recall travelling on these vehicles when new whether the manual gearbox was an original feature. WYPTE 1807 was fitted from new with the Allison Automatic AT-545 box, and it does seem surprising that GMPTE would have specified a manual gearbox as late as 1985.